Is your social media policy up to date?

As more small businesses and start ups are launching a social media presence, here are some important considerations to take before you proceed any further.  First, do you have a social media policy for your staff & have you trained them in best practices?

It may seem like a no-brainer to some but as we’ve been traveling across the country the last few months for our Social Media Masters events, we’re hearing more often that many small businesses don’t have any policies or best practices to protect their brand. 

It sounds more difficult than it is, promise.  

Policies are set to protect not only your brand but your clients and employees. By establishing expectations, you describe best practices around how to engage, react and/or handle crisis on behalf of your brand.

Suggested Guidelines

Ford has done a great job of sharing their social media policy, and may be things to consider incorporating in your social media policy, 

1. Be honest.

2. Be clear the view expressed are yours.

3. Be respectful.

4. Use common sense.

5. Be aware your comments are permanent. 

Ford Social Media Guidelines(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

Be mindful of applicable laws 

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As the digital landscape is changing, so are the suggested changes to laws handed down by the National Labor Relations Board.  Keep in mind that your organization needs to stay on top of laws that impact your social media policies, including the newest discussions around what comments on employees’ personal profiles are protected.  

“Criticism of an employer’s practices about wages, hours and working conditions is protected no matter how it is expressed as long as it is ‘protected, concerted activity.’ ‘Protected’ is any statement about wages, hours or working conditions. ‘Concerted’ means the employee’s statements were ‘engaged in with or on the authority of other employees.’ So the statement has to be about working conditions—it can’t be a personal attack that is ‘so disloyal, reckless or maliciously untrue’ that it loses protected status. The statement also has to be directed to other employees or to the company on behalf of the employees—not just personal gripes, honking or wailing. But it doesn’t matter where or how the employee makes the statement if it is also ‘protected’ and ‘concerted.’”

via Open Forum

That means, if an employee is complaining about not getting a raise or lack of pay, it may not be something you can fire them for. While this isn’t official law yet, be mindful that your policy is a living document and may require several iterations to keep up with the industry changes and laws. Here’s a great post on social media and the law, employer Do’s and Don’ts from the NLRB

Social Media Policy Best Practices

If you want some more example of effective social media policies from brands who stay up on the latest changes, visit Intel, IBM and Web 2 0 Governance Policies and Best Practices, which provides public sector examples including, Air Force, and state and county government policies.   

Consider checking out our SMC Code of Ethics, if you’re looking for samples of industry standards for social media professionals.